Broken hand doesn't deter mauling Melendez
Despiting sustaining a hand injury, Gilbert "El Nino" Melendez threw a whirlwind of punches to score a unanimous decision victory over Japanese veteran Tetsuji Kato at the Playboy Mansion.
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- It wouldn't be wrong to suggest that mixed martial artists are single-handedly responsible for the outcome of their fights. On a chilly Southern Californian evening, winning "single-handedly" is literally what Gilbert Melendez did.Looking to shed 10 months of ring rust, the undefeated Melendez endured a busted right hand to defeat Japanese veteran Tetsuji Kato in a tougher-than-expected U.S. return to competition. As Hugh Hefner and his entourage of Playboy bunnies sat cageside, the Strikeforce 155-pound champion fought with Kato to cap the first MMA event at the iconic Playboy Mansion with a compelling three-round non-title affair.
UndercardDewey Cooper moved to 2-0 as a professional mixed martial artist. He is also now 2-0 against Adam Smith, taking a unanimous decision win for the second time in five weeks. Cooper, a 32-year-old longtime veteran of the K-1 USA circuit, had a decided edge on the ground. The southpaw landed several punches and kicks, hurting Smith, 28, in the third with consecutive left straights. Nelson Hamilton and Abe Belardo scored the fight 29-28 for Cooper, while Luis Cobian had it 29-27 for the Las Vegan. Smith fell to 2-2. Daniel McWilliams finished 40-year-old Eddy Millis at 2:05 of the opening round. McWilliams fought off several of Millis' takedown efforts while threatening the entire time with a guillotine choke. When Millis (0-2) finally found top control, the head of the Shark Tank fell back for a rather sloppy heelhook. McWilliams, announced as fighting out of Team Garage, defended and quickly moved to the mount. Millis turned to avoid punches to the face, and McWilliams (2-1) sunk in the fight-ending choke. Once Luke Stewart found the mount against Sam Liera, the Ralph Gracie-trained fighter offered undefended strikes before referee Cecil Peoples halted the contest at 3:09 of the opening round. Stewart (4-0) missed a high kick to start the bout and fell to the canvas. He quickly sprang to his feet, but Liera (4-2) popped Stewart with a right straight as penance for the mistake. They soon clinched and Stewart, 28, brought the fight to the floor, where he eventually passed the 23-year-old Liera's guard and started a minute's worth of punches from the mount that prompted the stoppage. Anthony Figueroa capitalized off a solid right hand to Miguel Linares' jaw while the 135-pound fighters battled in the clinch. After a tentative opening minute, Figueroa and Linares, 20, clinched. The stout Figueroa (3-1) connected with a short right hand and several punches to the body before an uppercut dropped Linares (2-3). Another punch from the 27-year-old Figueroa followed and referee Marcos Rosales moved in to stop the contest, which was officially ruled a knockout, at 2:09 of the opening round. Josh Gross is the editor of Sherdog.com and a frequent contributor to ESPN.com.
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